Druids, Paladins & Shamans, Oh My: Why Hybrid Classes Don't Work

sha_wow.jpgI should preface this by saying the idea behind a hybrid class is fantastic. I'm the sort of player that can't stand being pigeon-holed. I like flexibility. To be stuck in the same role for months, even years, in a massively multiplayer online game sounds like torture - the sort you'd endure if someone were to swap your butt with your gonads and force you to sit the same way you always have.

Ouch? You better believe it.

No one likes being sidelined, underpowered or having their class poorly understood by their peers, but these are the issues hybrids have had to endure since the dawn of massively multiplayer games. Is there a solution to the hybrid problem, or should players of classes like the Druid, Paladin and Shaman face the fact that they will never be balanced?Why World of Warcraft? Observant folk will notice that the Druid, Shaman and Paladin are all classes from World of Warcraft. They also happen to be the top three attempts I've seen at experimenting with the concept - the jack of all trades, the offensive hybrid and the defensive hybrid, respectively. If you were going to design a hybrid class, these are the prototypes you'd experiment with.

I'm using World of Warcraft as my foundation for two reasons: 1) I have extensive experience playing the game (and I also use quite a few links to the WoW forums to illustrate my points) and 2) it shows how a designer's original concept ultimately did not work in the framework of a game aimed at demographic that always wants to excel i.e. hardcore gamers. It's important how "excelling" is measured, but we'll get to that later.

For now, let's discuss what "hybrid" means.

What's a hybrid? From dictionary.com: anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds.

Okay, that looks confusing. Heck, I had to look up "heterogeneous" to remind myself what it means (from a foreign source, if you were wondering). Essentially, a hybrid is an entity made up of various, different elements.

But that's, like, everything in the world! We need to tighten our definition and make it relevant to the classes in an MMO. So, let's start with the "foreign sources". Almost all fantasy MMOs revolve around the tank/damage/healer design, or "holy trinity" as it's called in the business. These roles form the base classes, with the tank absorbing hits, the damage dealing it out, and the healer keeping the former two at their peak.

The history of the holy trinity can be traced back to pen and paper role-playing games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons. We'll revisit this later, but for now, we have our sources.

So a hybrid can be a tank/healer (Paladin), a damage/healer (Shaman), a tank/damage (the soon to be released Death Knight) or all three (Druid). How do you go about balancing these hybrids against their one-dimensional counterparts?

1 + 1 = Learn to play Balance, at its core, is mathematics - after all, the strength of your character is but a collection of numbers in a database. A common method to come up with initial values for statistics, damage, healing, etc. is to throw all the potential variables into a spreadsheet and graph the results of various scenarios. For example, you want a boss to take five minutes to kill using a party made up of the trinity - healer, damage and tank - and drain 50 percent of their resources. By tweaking the boss' health, rate of damage, resistance to effects, etc., you come up with an opponent that this party can kill within the established time frame. With this prototype battle established, you can playtest to account for those annoying random occurrences or situations you didn't factor into the original balance model.

Let's pretend, mathematically speaking, a party needs to equal "3" in order to be considered "average". It cannot contain more than one of each class type. Pure tank, healer and damage classes all equal one, so adding one of each gives us our three.

How is a hybrid represented mathematically? Let's say we have our damage/healer hybrid. It's half a healer, so that's 0.5. It's also half a damage dealer, so that's another 0.5. Added together, we get one. There's no problem, right?

Wrong. That hybrid has to fill one of our three roles completely in order to equal our average party - or "3". If our party already has a tank and a healer, then our damage/healer hybrid must fill the role of the damage dealer. But the class is only half a damage dealer, so our party equals 2.5. In essence, the party is below average, and will have difficulty completing our five-minute boss.

This is the problem, I believe, World of Warcraft encountered early in its life cycle. People aren't looking for a class that can't excel at anything. Sure, players of hybrids will say they're fine being a lesser substitute, but when push comes to shove, no one wants to be left behind because a pure class does better.

What can we conclude from all this? Mathematically speaking, the "half and half" hybrid is flawed.

But games are more than maths, of course.

The practical hybrid You can't have a hybrid that's as good as the classes it is based on. Why then, would you play anything else? There has to be compromise.

Let's go back to D&D. Now I said that the holy trinity has its origins in this pen and paper RPG. This is somewhat true. D&D had its fair share of hybrid classes. The Cleric is the best example - a fighter that can heal. D&D has been around for over two decades, and the cleric has been a part of the game since 1st Edition. So how did the designers go about balancing the Cleric?

They didn't. Wizards of the Coasts believes it's done a decent job of putting the Cleric in its place in 4th Edition, but even in 3.5 the designers believed the class was "good at too many things". While the class lacked the finesse of a fighter, it possessed its core strengths - armour, hit die (health) and weapon proficiencies. Add reliable healing and multi-purpose spells on top of this, and you have a class that, on paper, is unbalanced.

I'm going to tell you a little secret: this is intentional. Something you have to understand is, if you play a hybrid, you're naturally asking for more responsibility. This is the compromise. You have to master two or more roles instead of one. As a result, the reward should be greater. For a hybrid to work practically, it has to be a little overpowered. But only if played well. Take out the min-maxing, add in your average player, and classes like the Cleric balance out because casuals and chronic re-rollers tend to focus on one role.

But we can't take out min-maxing, because it's the players at the hardcore-end of the things that are going to complain. As long as it's fun and easy, casual players don't really care where their class falls on the power scale.

Healing factor Healing also factors into this intentional overpowering - grab 100 players of any MMO, and more of them will say "dealing damage is more fun than healing". Hardly scientific, but look at it this way: sure, you might like healing your mates all the time, but you're not healing those instance bosses to death. And when you grind, those 100s of mobs don't die under the blinding light of your healing spells. No, when you boil it down, players like dealing damage over everything else.

So to "excel", a class must be able to deal appreciable damage in Player versus Environment content, or be able to defeat another player before they can make proper use of their abilities. It is by this metric that players determine whether a class needs to be buffed or nerfed. Of course, this is only important in a game where damage is vital to winning.

WoW has no true hybrids The designers of World of Warcraft decided not to take the D&D way of balancing hybrid classes. Once they clicked on to the fact that "half and half" hybrids don't work, all classes that fit into the category were fundamentally changed. Now, with the correct spending of talent points, WoW hybrids can fill the roles of the primary classes they're based on, as long as they're willing to not be a hybrid.

Yes, some flexibility remains, but not enough to really be called a hybrid. No, the WoW hybrid is now a class that can change its role with talent points rather than a re-roll. It's definitely a way of solving the problem, but put simply, WoW no longer has true hybrids.

A solution? So, what have we learned? Pure "half and half" hybrids don't work, because they cannot excel at any role; "half and half" hybrids must be overpowered to be worth playing; players like to hurt enemies more than heal friends; and damage is the metric by which most classes should be balanced, at least in the minds of players (who are your paying customers, after all).

I don't think it's possible to remove damage as a metric - it's burned too deeply into our brains that hitting a bad guy with a sword or fireball is path of least resistance to victory, loot, fame, etc. We need to forget about roles and replace them with themes, centred on damage as an equaliser.

As such, next week I'm going to put forward a replacement for the holy trinity, and a way to have true hybrids, of a sort. No tank. No healer. Everyone has their time in the spotlight.

Update: I've seen a few readers post about talent respecs and how this makes the three World of Warcraft classes mentioned in the article true hybrids. Sadly, this is not the case.

I won't argue that a Paladin can't devote itself into the Protection tree and become a great tank, or throw everything into the Holy tree and not heal like a pro - because it can. Blizzard has done an excellent job of giving hybrids a new lease on life by allowing them to specialise as one of the holy trinity. But that's not what the article is about.

Tell me this: if a Paladin is Protection-specced, you're not going to ask it to main heal. True, it can technically do it - the skills are there. But is it optimal or even noteworthy? Not at all. It doesn't matter that a Paladin, with the correct gear, can serve in both roles with a simple respec. The point is that it can't be both at the same time, and remain competitive against classes/specs that are dedicated. The case I'm making is that a true hybrid is, balance-wise, not possible in any MMO.

I'd also urge everyone not to get the game and the theory confused. This isn't about a particular class in a particular MMO being over or underpowered. If it helps, replace WoW and Shaman/Paladin/Druid with another MMO and its offensive hybrid/defensive hybrid/jack-of-all-trades.

Editor's note: Kotaku Australia previously posted several articles detailing the real life experiences of a powerleveller. You can begin reading the three-part series here.


Comments

    I think that this is a large reason for Diablo's charm lasting as long as it has. By NOT focusing on the holy trinity of tank damage healer, each class sees an amount of action based on it's power level rather than filling a niche.

    That said Diablo is and old, old game and far from perfect, having it's own chasms of imbalance between power levels such as the blizzard sorc or the hammerdin. But the principle is still there. If you take away the need for a dedicated tank, healer, and damage dealer - you force everyone to do all 3 of those things themselves. All that is left to do is balance the power levels between each of the classes (which diablo didn't get right by a long shot lol) which is less design and pure math.

    The whole concept of a hybrid doesn't fit with the entire MMO idea in the first place. I think you're writing under the assumption that to have fun in an MMO is to play in a party. And that's right. The problem is that Hybrids aren't really made for partying. The whole jack of trades thing is pretty much for people playing solo, and that doesn't work in MMOs at all. MMOs are about community and cooperation and stuff, so the "holy trinity" works there. Hybrids belong in single player games. It's kind of a waste of online time to play solo in an MMO.

    The whole point of a hybrid is that you're not as effective at doing the job as a non-hybrid, but you make up for it with your utility in other cases. Personally I play a prot Paladin in WoW. I can't tank bosses as effectively as a Warrior could, but I make up for that by being able to heal, off-tank, res and supply some useful buffs.

    I guess that what Blizzard need to do is figure out some kind of niche for each of the hybrid class specs.

    all i want to say is hybrids have specs, and just because u have a few talents points in a dps tree doesnt mean u r a dps. the talent trees are made to choose a way to play, healing tree=healing, so no...just because your a hybrid class doesnt mean that you try to fill two spots in a party

    A raid group will likely not find a warrior as tank, priest healers as much as they can, and that means, any druids, paladins, or shamans can fill their role in at any time, meaning, when you have any of those three classes in your party, and assuming they are able to gear up as different roles, finding another player is much easier, what I mean is that, if you have a druid, a paladin and a shaman in your party, the final slot can be filled with any class and spec, and the druid, paladin and shaman can just play whatever roles as need, whereas if you have a warrior, a rogue and a warlock, you NEED a priest, you just can't have another class.

    On top of that, there are certain benefits to the hybrid classes, like in-battle resurrection from Druids, Paladin auras, and Shaman totems. As you can see, and it's not as if a warrior necessarily tanks better, or a priest heals better, each individual player is different, I've seen paladins who healed and tank better than warriors and priests, and druids who healed and DPS better than priests or rogues.

    The point is, this is not a two-dimensional game, there are a lot of factors to consider, rather than, "The best party has the best tank, the best healer, etc."

    Hybrids are underpowered? Bullshit. If anything, hybrids are outperforming their 'pure' counterparts. Nerf Druids kthx.

    I'll agree with the idea that hybrids have a lot of responsibility, I play a druid, and I have at least 6 sets of gear between the 3 specs. But hybrids aren't left behind, they just need a few sets of gear and a re-spec.

    Personally I belive that Blizz did a good job on the Hybrid classes. The Resto Druid (what I play) is near impossible for others to kill and I deal massive ammounts of healing. I can also tank, it works really well. Also, always playing in a group is not always possible for friends who have conflicting schedules. Sometimes you have to play solo and being able to heal yourself while your tanking mobs comes in handy...

    Having played a hybrid for a couple years now, and as well as leveling pure classes, rogue/mage/lock, I can tell you there is no better class then a hybrid. you can say what you will, I won't be back reading this ne ways. You have a big misconception of the party=3 math. You bring a hybrid that has a spec to deal damage and heal...ie the Druid(OP and you can't stop blizzard so ROFL) and he has equal gear for both, when asked to deal damage he does, when asked to heal he switches gear and he does, he also has a tank set which he dons and tanks and then to top it off the ole' PVP kill you OPness set. Yes i carry all these with me because even raiding you will never fill your bags with loot so have a few spots open for that. Now ask the lock to heal, ask the mage to tank....hmmm can't do it, except for a few fights locks can tank but you get the jist. So the party of 3 just went to a party of 4 since the hybrid got 1.0 for damage and .5 for tank and heal. The hybrids are harder to understand and even harder to play, which is the attraction for the good players. Seems to me most of you try to play them and suck at it giving the hardcore hybrids a bad name. If I wanted to play a class that could just point and kill something at mere sight, i'd just go back to diablo and load the mod for God Mode and kill you. Skill is what tops the list for a hybrid, since most players lack the necessary skill to play one correctly it is easy why people are confused as to why smeone would play one.

    Well I played a Shaman in WoW up until about 2 months ago, when I finally got sick of the crap my shaman was put through.

    I'm looking forward to Warhammer Online's classes such as the Warrior Priest and the Goblin Shaman as everything that I have seen and read makes me believe it could be quite possible to have hybrid classes work. With EA Mythic's focus on making all classes have some sort of hybridism to them, this could be either the first MMO with potential to make hybrids cool or a horrible failure on the part of classes.

    Oh cmon, this isn't true.
    WoW HAS a true hybrid in the game, and that's the feral druid. He can put out good dps in cat, and great tanking in bear, you just need 2 sets of great gear. Usually I agree with you're blog, but as a 70 feral currently at 2/6 MH, it isn't true.

    Apart from feral druids, you're also not really right. When we need another tank, my druid guildmate respecs feral. When we need another healer, he respecs resto. When we just need another dps, he respecs feral cause he has better gear for that. Pretty much every evening, he has another role. I mean, if your guild doesn't take you cause you don't heal like a priest, do dps like a rogue, or don't tank like a warr - /gquit now.

    Also, we should give the dalai lama WoW. I think they'd all roll a healer.

    Having played a lock almost exclusively for over a year, I gotta tell you that when building a party, the flexibility of a hybrid class is enough to make me want to prioritize them over pure classes a lot of the time.

    In PvP, this is obviously not true (not that the holy trinity exists in PvP anyway), but in PvE, a good Druid or Shaman is not in any way less desirable than a Warrior or a Mage, plus, the hybrid allows you more options for all your other party slots.

    Also, the game is just plain more complex than you make it out to be. I would always choose a pally to run as tank in Scholomance, for example. Shamans are INCREDIBLY useful in Slave Pens, whereas a Rogue is just not ideal in most SP parties. The game has too much variety to really pigeonhole anyone who doesn't want to be pigeonholed, hybrid class or not.

    Priest are hybdrids too...dps+heal

    I think what you're trying to say would pretty much be resolved by the hint blizz gave at giving players two specs they could swap in between without visiting a trainer, would mean as long as you have more than one gear set you would be able to swap you spec and gear during an instance run to fill more than one role. Although, granted, it might not mean you could fulfill multiple roles all at once, unless you had one "hybrid" specc and one "pure" specc.. Maybe it won't solve anything after all lol

    Feral druids still remain fairly successful tanking/dps hybrids and they remain very effective in both the roles (they can off-heal quite decently too, if given time to switch gears). As for the other classes - what do you expect? A class that could be just as effective at multiple roles as the more "specialized" classes (though in fact these classes are usually pretty generic in their chosen roles - it's the hybrids who are typically specialists, funny enough) would immediately upset the balance of the game. Right now every class and spec is somehow useful and desired by the high-end guilds (well, maybe except the retridins...). It's really not easy to balance 27 specs so that they work together and none are obviously overpowered. Blizz managed to do it, and it's mostly fine. IMO you are looking for problems where they simply don't exist.
    I also have no idea whatsoever what does "ppl like to do damage" opinion have to do with it. Firstly, it's not true - if it was, there would always be a shortage of healers/tanks and it doesn't happen. There was a research done once (sadly, I no longer remember where I found it) about the motivations people follow when choosing class and spec. It appears male teenagers actually do prefer to play as dps. However, older male and female (regardless of age) players choose healing classes much more often, and people who like to lead others often pick tanking specs.
    Secondly, whether it's true or not, the fact remains that a character who could both heal and dps just as effectively as dedicated healers/dpsers would make the latter redundant and break the game. Elemental shamans are pretty decent healers and Resto shamans are pretty decent dpsers. Same could be said about other hybrid classes, and that's as far a it goes. Anything beyond "pretty decent" would be way over the top.

    Completely wrong.

    Just because a shaman CAN be either healer or dps, does not mean he is worse in either of those fields than lets say a warlock or priest.

    Who on earth attempts to raid or do instances end-game as half healer half dps? Thats idiotic.

    If anything, Elemental shamans are one of the least gear-dependant classes, and can dish out some of the best dps ingame, just as they are also awesome healers.

    I have my doubts that you even reached 70.

    @Jason Borne: You're right. Doing instances end-game as half-DPS and half-healer is dumb. That's exactly the point I'm making. Blizzard's original vision for hybrids failed, because people don't want to be half-good at roles. The solution it came up with allowed those classes to specialise, but it eliminated true hybrids from the game. Ultimately it was a good idea, seeing as they're impossible to balance.

    FYI, before I quit, I had two 70 druids and a 70 paladin. So I've seen my fair share of end-game as a hybrid.

    I hate to go in to more the actual class's of wow rather then the article it self, but the last post by negative zero caught my eye.

    The comment of the prot paladin not being able to tank as well but brings buffs and heal, this on the surface might seem like a nice trade off except for the fact that with in the paladin class, all three specs can fill in the roll of all the extra utility that negativezero stated.

    Therefore there is no unique reason there, all the prot paladin ends up being is a sub par tank with no trade off. This is a prime example of the article in action.

    The Hybrid shouldn't exist if this is the case and instead each class should try to be as equal to the holy trinity as possible, having the utility what separated them apart. this would eliminate the problems and give each class it's only unique elements.

    i have recently started playing wow. because i am new and joined to play with my husband i was directed as to what i should go for. i love having a hybrid (i currently play shaman as my main character). its great to feel useful as a healer but still be able to play solo to level up. i have dabbled a bit in other characters (paladin, warlock) and i enjoy testing out each class. i dont raid and rarely do dungeons but when i have i had fun. the game is what you make of it.

    In theory i agree with you m8. But in situation as wow where you have allready "hibrids" you cant remove them cause they dont work or as blizzard do ignored them.
    When ppl argue about wow hibrids they allways take druid as model, they are well balance but they ARENT same as shaman/paladins which have big mechanism/skills problem and which are ignored deeply from blizzard with excuse: "will fix them in next patch".
    Atm gap beetwen paladin/shaman and other class in balance or role is huge atm, small fix cant change anything.
    All in all, this issue will stay untill ppl stop playing that class or "forum critical mass" rise too high, in that point blizzard will took in consideration customers but problem will be started to be fix in long term(in 1 year or more)

    I think you forgot that World of Warcraft have more "hybrid" classes than you mention.

    Here is a more complete list:

    Warrior. Hybrid roles: Boss Tanking, Melee DPS
    Priest. Hybrid roles: Healing, Caster DPS
    Druid. Hybrid roles: Melee DPS Tanking, Healing, Caster DPS
    Paladin. Hybrid roles: AoE Tanking, Healing, Melee DPS
    Shaman. Healing, Caster DPS, Melee DPS

    That leave only four "pure" classes:
    Mage. Primary role: Caster DPS
    Warlock. Primary role: Caster AoE DPS
    Hunter. Primary role: Ranged physical DPS
    Rogue. Primary role: Melee DPS

    Now, having said that. ALL of the "hybrid classes" i mentioned can only spec and gear for ONE role at any given time.

    Paladin are EITHER Protection geared+specced for AoE Tanking OR Holy geared+specced for Healing OR Retribution geared+specced for Melee DPS. Unlike Shaman and Druid - Paladin does NOT have synergi between the talent specs to take on more than one raid role!

    Warrior are EITHER Protection geared+specced for Boss Tanking OR Arms / Fury geared+specced for Melee DPS. But an Arms / Fury specced warrior can switch into protection gear and act as an offtank. So I guess that make Warriors more of a Hybrid class than Paladins.

    Priest are EITHER Holy geared+specced for Healing OR Shadow geared+specced for Caster DPS. But a Shadow specced priest can switch into healing gear and act as an offhealer. So I guess that make Priest more of a Hybrid class than Paladins as well.

    Shaman actually have mechanics for casting heals even when specced and geared for Melee DPS. Healing gear do have spelldamage components and thus can Elemental and Restoration cover each role a bit as well.

    Same goes for Druid. They can successfully spec restokin for both healing and caster DPS with the same talent build. And feral can swich between tanking and melee DPS on the fly with the same talent spec - and feral in cat form recieves quite a lot extra +healing based on attackpower which let them cast a HoT and then return to Cat-form on the fly.

    So the breakdown.

    Pure classes:
    Mage
    Rogue
    Hunter
    Warlock
    Paladin (is 3 different pure classes)

    Hybrid classes:
    Priest
    Druid
    Shaman
    Warrior

    Just to make a comment, I MT and OT t5/t6 content, we run with 1 warrior tank and 2 paladin tanks, we've run ssc with this setup and done all but vashj and kaelthras with it and we've done solarian and void reaver this way, but also on bosses where you only need two tanks like rage I can throw on a healing set (which has 2k bonus heals and 20% crit) and heal almost as well as our other healers, and in fact we took rage down with just 1 priest and I up.

    Some of these people commenting don't even seem like they read the entire article. How depressing. Anyway...

    You're quite right in your assessment of how hybrids in World of Warcraft panned out for the most part. Nearly every class is a "hybrid" baseline before talents, even Warriors (DPS/Tank), Priests (DPS/Healers) are hybrids as far as WoW is concerned.

    World of Warcraft breaks the hybrid mold by removing jack of all trades elements by specializing via talent points. A warrior spec'd Protection is no more a DPS class than a Protection spec'd paladin is a healer.

    The biggest problem is no longer a question of is a class a hybrid or not in my opinion, it's balancing the classes specializations around their peers in whatever specialization is in question. For example, balancing that elemental shaman (that is no longer an effective healer) against it's mage counter part, balancing that Ret paladin (no longer an effective tank or healer) against it's rogue counter part, etc.

    This is where the conflict for most hybrids stem. The "hybrid" that is no longer a hybrid because of spec wants to be competitive with the peer that is a "pure" class (rogue, mage, warlock) but the "pure" classes feel that making the hybrid on par with them (not better but just on par) threatens their own viability in the role they provide (i.e. DPS). To combat this Blizzard has taken the route of making "hybrid" classes very buff/group orientated to force a type of synergy between the "pure" classes and Hybrids that effectively force hybrids into the balance of the game. For example, a high end raid guild without an Enhancement Shaman to buff it's melee DPS is absurd or a Shadowpriest to buff it's caster DPS/Mana returns.

    I suspect that we'll continue to see this type of balance take place for quite some time.

    On paper, that theory works and makes sense but your conclusion is too broad. I don't think it's fair to say that, given the limited metric by which you are measuring a class (essentially, group performance in pve encounter), the very notion of the hybrid is flawed.

    When you throw PvP or any other non-pve group-based activity in an mmo whose "stick" offers a "carrot" comparable to that of the pve group-content, a whole different metric is involved and balance becomes a much more difficult, dynamic matter. I think WoW has done a pretty admirable job of this and it looks like AoC will do an even better job, if Funcom ever figures out how balance works (they seem to take the D&D/kitchen sink approach and just make everyone at least a little bit of a hybrid).

    AoC is also interesting as at least 2 of the 3 healer classes dominate the endgame servers. When I hit 70 on my sword and board guardian a couple of weeks ago (of which my guild has too many) I was asked to switch to level up an assassin or demo. Point being, we had way too many healers and tanks and not enough pure damage dealers. And I know for a fact that this is a situation not at all unique to my guild. While this does go some ways to proving your point that pve damage is an important metric, it also points out that there are ways around making this the end-all-be-all metric.

    Furthermore, the point system you use is inherently flawed, I think, as it skews too heavily in favor of the pure classes. I cannot think of ANY current generation MMO that has a "pure" class outside of a specific spec. So a Prot Warrior would be a 1, but a differently specced warrior could be a .7563 or something. WoW has taken great lengths to stretch the basic holy trinity thinking by creating counters that rely on caster tanking, and have pushed the notion of "pure" classes being the only desirable classes to the side a bit by introducing incredibly valuable utilities skills to hybrid classes. Are two pure classes usually more desirable? Of course. But are they necessary? Rarely.

    And that is really the crux of the issue: too many players want to have their cake and eat it too. Hybrid class players want to be as good as a pure class player (I like that phrase "pure class player"). That has to do not with balance but with perception. Frankly, I don't think that this _has_ to be the perception, either, as both AoC and the upcoming Warhammer online have taken great strides in eschewing this thinking. The problem with WoW was one of the things that made it great: it played it safe by taking every great thing from previous MMOs and not coming up with much new. Part and parcel of that "theft" was the lifting of the holy trinity. Ask anyone in AoC if they prefer having a ToS to a PoM and they won't be able to answer you. Some will point out that in a few situations one does better than the other (but neither is the best healer). That is true also for all of the damage classes. I guess the point I'm trying to make is is that if there are no pure classes offered, then the whole "there can be no hybrid" argument just dissapears.

    I'd argue that there is still one Hybrid in WoW. The feral druid only requires a change of gear to go from one a really good tank (some warriors argue there are better then them) to a decent if not good damage dealer (and again some would argue too good a damage dealer).

    Don't take this the wrong way, just pointing out that infact, even with talents WoW still has one Hybrid that meets your definition.

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